If there was one thing I wish I could tell my marriage-minded friends who repeatedly deal with ambivalent men, it would be this: “Stop being ridiculous and ‘settle’ for the guy who likes you.”
I would tell them that because I wish someone would have told me that years ago when I met the guy who I now deem as my personal disaster.
If men can be stunners, he definitely was one. Charming and extraordinarily good looking, he possessed an exuberant amount of swag before anyone even used the word “swag”. As a result, my friends and I nicknamed him “Masterpiece”.
Masterpiece and I would hang out from time to time, but he was emotionally vacant; therefore, I clearly didn’t have a chance. Still, I was utterly infatuated. Convinced that I could change his mind about wanting to be in a serious relationship, I pulled out all of the stops. He was skilled in the game though knowing how to keep me at arms length while embracing me at the same time. The push-pull was simultaneously intoxicating and devastating. Looking back, I wonder what kept me motivated to ride such a vomit-inducing rollercoaster and I discovered that it was my own mind! I would rehearse all of his great qualities in my head and tell them to friends when explaining why I just couldn’t walk away.
I had decided he was my dream come true – except he wasn’t. I was just being totally and completely delusional. I realized that I had my “list”, but it was flipped the wrong way. His superficial qualities (tall, smart, handsome, accomplished) were checked off at the top but the things that truly matter in a relationship (likes me, calls me back, trustworthy, considerate) were all hanging out abandoned at the bottom.
Though it pains me to admit it, at the time, I didn’t realize that a man liking me was a lot more important to the progress of a relationship then him being taller than I am when I’m wearing heels. I knew I wouldn’t consider dating a man shorter than me, so I gave those guys no consideration, but I rationalized why I should give men a chance who were emotionally indifferent towards me. I was applying importance to the wrong things in my dating life.
This is possibly because I saw height and looks as something that can’t be changed, but viewed his desire toward me as malleable. To a certain extent this is true because sometimes men do end up liking a woman they didn’t like before, but who wants to put in all that work? Any man a woman has to work to get, she will certainly have to work to keep. Why spend a life like that?
I knew that I needed to get rid of the notion that a guy liking me wasn’t that important, because in fact, it is of the utmost importance. I had to tell myself that there is nothing endearing about a man who couldn’t care less about me.
That truly was what it boiled down to. Plenty of men who were interested in me fit my superficial descriptions, but I observed that when I was dealing with men who weren’t interested, it added to their allure. The feeling that my heart got when he just gave me a little bit of attention was like winning a game or coming across a ridiculously discounted sale. That feeling doesn’t last though and eventually I was right back down in the depths when I would come across his flirting with another girl or realize he hadn’t initiated contact in weeks. I would fight to the death to get that high feeling back and when I did, I would unceremoniously be slammed back to the bottom when it was gone. I was both hooked on and sick of the drama.
On the flipside, liking someone who actually likes me is an entirely different world. In a weird way, it felt like settling. I thought I was giving something up that I wanted when really I was just giving up the drama. No more trying to win. No more hurt feelings and feelings of inadequacy. It soon became abundantly clear that loving and being loved in return feels much better than all those highs and it doesn’t come with any lows. No matter how self-confident you claim to be, being with someone who doesn’t value you makes it hard to value yourself whereas being with someone who thinks you’re amazing, makes you feel amazing. And who doesn’t like to feel amazing?
The truth is, when you finally abandon your propensity to desire men who don’t like you and instead make up in your mind to settle for the men who do, you’ll quickly realize that you didn’t settle at all.
[Editors Note: I wrote this for MadameNoire.com in July of 2012 and it was originally posted here: http://madamenoire.com/193172/one-piece-of-advice-be-done-with-ambivalent-men-and-settle-for-the-one-who-likes-you/]